What does it mean to you to be a Vermonter? One thing that has always been a piece of the Vermont brand, and that’s a part of my philosophy, is minimizing our environmental impact. Vermont is overflowing with locally produced items that breathe quality and sustainability. It’s an essential part of who we are as a community.
In the business world, it’s crucial that you can back up your claims. You want your marketing, including promotional products, to accurately reflect your brand and its core beliefs. If your company has an eco-friendly focus and you’re looking to market your brand with promotional products, there are several options available produced with sustainability in mind.
This is especially important in today’s market due to the up and coming generation – Gen Z. Expected to make up 40% of the U.S. consumer market by 2020, members of Gen Z consistently list a company’s values as a top factor in choosing whether to work with that company. Those values include both social and environmental responsibility.
With that in mind, we created our Promo with a Purpose campaign to highlight promotional products that are made with a focus on sustainability and reusability.
Explore our ultimate guide to eco-friendly promotional products below!
1) Cork Items
Cork is being used to craft several different promotional products, including mugs, bags, journals, and coasters. Its versatility is matched by durability and sustainability. Cork can be regularly harvested from cork trees without cutting them down, helping to maintain critical habitat for endangered species and absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere. It provides a unique and memorable way to incorporate eco-friendly practices into your brand.
Like cork, bamboo is now a component in branded products from a variety of categories. Bamboo provides the look and feel of wood on a faster timeline, with plants maturing in 3-5 years. It can also be grown without using fertilizers or pesticides, and will usually regrow from its roots, so there is often no need to replant it. Bamboo’s versatility allows it to be used in everything from Bluetooth speakers, coasters, pens, and more!
3) Reusable Stainless Steel Bottles
Reusable bottles have been around awhile, but they continue to be a popular (and eco-friendly) choice for branded items. They encourage the use of metal bottles over plastic alternatives and serve as a reminder to stay hydrated. They’re a durable, useful, and recyclable promo item available in a variety of colors, styles, and sizes.
4) Reusable Straws
It’s estimated that Americans use 500 million disposable straws every day. Traditional plastic straws aren’t recycled, ending up in landfills and polluting the oceans. Straw bans have gone into effect in an increasing number of cities and businesses, including Washington, D.C. in January 2019.
It’s a long way to go, however, before straws are a thing of the past. Many retailers are offering an alternative—straws that can be packaged for travel, washed, and reused again and again. The promotional product space is entering this market, too. Branded options include straws made from silicone, metal, and even bamboo (which will biodegrade under the right conditions).
5) Seed Paper
“Seed paper” starts with a base of recycled and biodegradable paper, which is combined with seeds, and then formed into fun shapes. Not only does this promo item have a purpose, but it helps create life! Recipients can plant the card, and with a bit of care, they’ll have a plant in just a few weeks.
6) Biodegradable Bags
Biodegradable bags allow for full color branding and the durability of plastic in an eco-friendly format. When discarded in an organic environment, the bags will fully break down.
7) Repurposed Records
Relive the memories of putting a new record on the turntable with promotional items crafted from recycled vinyl. Records that would otherwise be tossed in the landfill are being repurposed into custom clocks, coasters, bottle openers, journals, and more.
8) Eco-Friendly Vegan Leather
While leather has long been a base material for many apparel and accessory products, there are concerns regarding its ethical and environmental costs. Many consumers today are choosing to adopt a vegan lifestyle, not only in what they eat, but also regarding the physical products they wear and use. Even those who aren’t committed vegans find issue with the leather production process. It’s problematic for the animals, the environment, and the individuals who tan and cure the leather.
Vegan leather is essentially another term for faux leather. Non-leather alternatives have been on the market for a while, but vegan leather is now taking the accessories market by storm. Bags, watch bands, journals and many more vegan leather products are in high demand. Another factor in its favor is the cost—it’s more affordable than true leather options.
While vegan leather is a synthetic product, the apparel industry is getting smarter and pickier about the materials used to compose their vegan leather. This ensures that consumers can confidently purchase leather alternatives, knowing they are making an eco-friendly choice.
9) Biodegradable and Recycled Pens
Pens are a staple promotional product, for good reason. They’re inexpensive, useful, and great to give away. However, pens do have a short lifespan compared to other promotional products and are generally not reusable.
The good news is, the pen market is robust, and many vendors are concerned about the impact their products have on the environment. Several options are composed of recycled paper, a corn-based plastic, or a combination of both. In addition to being composed of natural and recycled material, these pens are biodegradable, and have a unique look and feel.
10) A Hat Made from Soda Bottles
Recycled options aren’t limited to promotional accessories—there are also eco-conscious options when it comes to apparel. Only a small portion of textiles are currently recycled. But we can expect that number to grow as more consumers are actively calling for greater sustainability in the apparel market.
Several vendors are producing clothing using a portion of recycled materials, including plastic bottles and fibers from other garments. These items maintain the quality of new fiber while giving consumers added peace of mind.
11) Refillable Portfolios
We may live in a digital world, but there are always times when we need to hand write notes. A popular trend is the reusable portfolio. These items typically consist of a durable outer cover with removable and replaceable inner notepads.
Composed of high-quality leather, faux leather, or recycled vinyl, these portfolios are a nice branding opportunity that consumers are sure to use again and again. They are perfect for debossing, which gives the piece a professional look and feel.
Are you interested in marketing with promotional products? We have a wide variety of items, including eco-friendly options, available in our online catalog. Contact our Promotional Branding Specialist, Sarah, to start a conversation about how promo can help you grow your business today.
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This post was originally published on February 1, 2018 and updated April 16, 2019.